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Climate change brings benefits to some Vietnamese farmers at a price | Agricultural Issues


For many years, Ta Thi Thanh Thuy has worked hard on the sands between the Mekong River and the South China Sea, an area known as Vietnam’s rice field, to grow valuable wheat.

But Thuy, along with other neighbors, over the past 10 years has completed an exchange – with shrimp – the unpredictable change that results from climate change.

As rising sea levels attract more salt in the Mekong Delta region, the path to shrimp lakes is expected to sell freshwater fish to the country.

The government has set a target of exporting more than two varieties of crab export from now to $ 10bn by 2025 and Delta farmers have benefited from local government training and alternatives, including small loans.

“Life was very difficult for us until we started growing lobsters,” said Thuy, 52. “Many lobster farmers around here can build better homes and keep bank accounts.”

The rise in sea levels in the Delta has been boosted by the construction of a number of offshore dams, which reduce water shortages.

“We planted rice but did not harvest rice,” said fellow crab farmer Ta Thanh Long. “There was a time when rice could grow when the water was still good. But each year the water increased in salt. ”

About one-third of Soc Trang’s land area within 72 km (45 miles) has been affected by salt levels in recent years, says Duong Minh Hoang, former head of the Agriculture Promotion Center.

“We have encouraged locals to change salty crops,” Hoang said. “Climate change is affecting everyone here. We must try to change in order to survive.”


Vietnam is the third largest exporter of rice in the world, but exports from shrimp exports have exceeded revenue from rice since 2013 and are growing rapidly.

“The local seafood growers come here to buy all the fish we grow,” said Ta Thanh Tung, 44, one of Thuy’s brothers who has converted rice and started lobster farming.

“We have heard that he is exporting crabs to Europe, China and the United States.”

More than half of Vietnam’s natural forests, which protect against erosion and hurricane erosion, have been cleared of crab ponds, according to one agency. [File: Thanh Hue/Reuters]

Industry analysts expect exports to increase by 5 to 10% a year over the next 10 years while the total crab-eating area – mainly in the Delta – increases by 3 to 5% annually.

Vietnam’s largest fish exporter, Minh Phu Seafood Corp, aims to transform the country into one of the world’s largest fish exporters. Minh Phu expects more than a dozen international agreements with the international community to help raise exports to $ 20bn, or a quarter of exports, by 2045.

This may help to alleviate the economic woes of Southeast Asia in the coming years. The World Bank estimates that climate change alone is about to reduce Vietnam’s foreign exchange earnings by 3.5% by 2050.

Shrimp worries

The transformation of shrimp from rice, however, comes with its many environmental problems.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a non-governmental organization in Switzerland, says that nearly half of the country’s natural forests, which protect against erosion and hurricane erosion, have been cleared.

Antibiotics used to treat infections in shrimp stocks can infiltrate neighboring waters, increasing the risk of contamination [File: Thanh Hue/Reuters]

Marine experts have shown a lack of control over the eruption of small lobster fields, with questions on everything from the raw materials they use to how they store their water.

There are other risks of using antibiotics to treat infections in shrimp stocks. Antibiotics can penetrate liquids, which are often discarded, untreated or treated incorrectly, return to neighboring water, increasing the risk of contamination in the area and damaging the effects of food.

“While people are talking about fishing and dams … the rejection of unseen pollutants is unthinkable,” said Matt Landos, an Australian pathologist at the marine life. “However, it is clear that it exists, and its abundance does not contribute to the fishing industry.”

In addition, the high salinity and rising sea levels that lead to early changes are likely to damage the Delta.

A height of 0.7 to 1 meter (2.3-3.3 feet) could cover about 40% of the water area, according to Le Anh Tuan, a professor at the College of Environment and Natural Resources at Can Tho University.

“The declining supply will continue in the coming years and parts of the rice fields will be converted into seafood, orchards and other crops,” adds Tuan.

Shrimp farmers say they already have problems with salt depletion.

“We have to dig deep wells to get clean water now,” added Thuy. “We are concerned that due to rising sea levels one day our fields will be flooded.”


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